Archive for April, 2013

Mental health and the coming generation
April 23, 2013

Over the past few days I’ve spent some time thinking about why so many young people are committing suicide in Ireland, the papers during the week carried a story about how a coroners court has dealt with a huge number of suicides in recent days… it’s heart breaking. The story got me thinking about the reasons why. I reached some conclusions which I thought I’d share.

There are a number of reasons why young people are killing themselves, many are case specific, familial or relationship problems for example, but there are a number of general issues which are responsible, in whole or in part, for many of my generation committing suicide.

The foremost of these is the state of the economy. Many readers will rightly point out that in Ireland poverty is nothing new, Ireland, for the vast majority, has always been a poor country. However, in the Ireland I grew up in I was constantly told by my parents, by teachers, by society in general, that my generation were the lucky ones. We never went hungry, we got new clothes, new shoes, new schoolbooks, new bikes, school uniforms with long pants, a bedroom of our own and we owned more than a mere shoe-box of battered toys. We had swimming, music and other lessons. Parents with well paying jobs, two cars and holidays further afield than Mosney or the Burren. We had nice things, flat screen TVs, sound systems, computers, pets who lived off more than leftovers. We had parents who loved to give us these things, things they never had. Was this really excess? Is it excess to live life with a degree of comfort, to do more than scrape by? Was it really excess to take a little of what, until then, was limited to the obscenely wealthy, when offered it? When a better life for them and their children was offered on a plate, or by cold calling bankers? Whose fault is it, those who were enticed to play the property ladder game, were told that the dice were loaded, that it was a sure thing and in this Celtic Tiger game St Patrick had driven away all the snakes and you could never land on one? Or is it the games master who hid the truth and had things rigged so he and his friends would win no matter what?

We had all these material things, but above all we had and have expectations. Expectations. Our parents generation had dreams. Dreams about many of the things we had as children but they never did. Dreams of a bright future, of going to college and getting an education. Dreams of getting a well paid job. Dreams of not having to emigrate. Many dreams of things which were beyond the norm of the day. I can’t tell you how many times my father has told me about the menial, soul destroying jobs he worked at from an early age, about how not one of his friends went to college, about how in general people lived week to week, how money was a constant worry. About how most of his friends emigrated. When I expressed disbelief he’d just shrug and say “That’s just how it was, and people accepted it and got on with things”. Then I’d be told how lucky I was that those days were over and how in todays Ireland you could make something of yourself with the opportunities. “You can be what you want, not what you have to be”.

This talk of dreams reminds me of a haunting line from a Bruce Springsteen song, it goes as follows: “Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true, or is it something worse?” The thing is; dreams tend not to come true. Thats an accepted and expected part of life and growing up. As bad as it is when dreams don’t come true, what about when it’s expectations? Promises? The Ireland my generation were expecting, were promised, is gone. The promise of a bright future here is gone. The opportunity, gone. Jobs are gone, degrees useless. I’ve killed three years of my life in the futile wish that by the time I’m finished things will be back on track, the recession a minor blip, and the degree the door opener I was told it would be as far back as I can remember. But as that day draws ever closer I can see that it is not so. Emigration is back, hunger is back, poverty is back. The things we grew up with are gone, certainty is gone. The promised expected land is gone. In it’s place is bitterness, anger, resentment but above all hopelessness. We’re the only Irish generation that will tell our kids about how much better we had it than them, that we had more and experienced more than them. Not only are our hopes and dreams dashed, but our expectations too. And therein is the crux of the issue, the foundations upon which we were to build our futures and launch our lives off of has collapsed, the concrete never set and now we are drowning in it with the hopeless realization that for the rest of our lives we will never reach the high tide mark of the Ireland of our youth, our very lowest expectations of the life we would live are gone, a low paying job which would have been viewed by ambitious parents as a bit of a failure for their children given the country they were born into , even that for many is out of reach, it’s a struggle now to achieve even our worst case scenario. Our hopes and dreams are so far out of reach that we feel foolish for having had them in the first place. Sheer hopelessness. Older generations can cope better with this I feel because for them it’s a return to the way things were, but their “good times” are our “normal times”. What is “normal” for the older and younger generation is miles apart. One feels resigned, perhaps deep down they think that such a crash was inevitable, a return to form was sure to come some day. The other has no hope, no wonder some look for a way out at the end of a rope. Can you blame them? What is there to look forward to? Promises have been broken, expectations shattered. We haven’t even bottomed out yet. The worst is yet to come.

Anger, bitterness, resentment is one thing, but sheer hopelessness is another thing altogether. A lot of young people feel like this, but I’m not sure if they can articulate the reasons why they feel like they do. Suicide is a symptom of this hopelessness. But not the only one.

While this audience might be receptive enough to the above, my next point will perhaps be more objectionable to some. It being, the rampant abuse of alcohol and other destructive drugs by young people. Drink exacerbates the above feelings. Clubs are packed on weekends with young people drinking themselves to oblivion, many pretending to have fun, doing what is expected, drinking to get drunk. Have an honest conversation with young people, many will tell you that they don’t really enjoy clubs or going on “mad ones”. Most young people I know prefer normal pubs and conversation. Or other social activity with friends which doesn’t necessarily involve drink. That ain’t the “done thing” though. Subliminal peer pressure the silent majority go along with. For many, behind the forced laughs there are silent recriminations, internal resentment and bitterness festering and eating away. Mind altering drugs do not mix well with feelings of hopelessness as I described. This can result in suicide, it has other symptoms too, lashing out, violence, vandalism, etc, things which seem to give an illusion of control back to the person involved.

Yes, things are fairly desperate, very bleak, very sad. This is the legacy of corrupt bankers, corpulent developers, vandalizing self interested politicians, irresponsible, selfish, greedy, exploitative elites whose fall we have broken with our expectations, hopes and dreams. Atop this human rubble they stand, brass necked, still living lives of privilege.

I’ve always been a bit of a cynic, Benjamin the Donkey has always been one of my favorite characters. Yet as should be clear by now I haven’t exactly taken things very well. I can understand why many of my peers with a different mindset have taken things far worse and ended everything either directly or partly because of the things I’ve wrote about. Hopelessness as a backdrop exacerbates every other problem one may experience.

I feel a lot of anger, bitterness and resentment. Things do look hopeless, the Irish people are shell shocked and look like they are being enticed once again by the insidious politicians, or their lookalikes, who brought this desperate situation about. It remains to be seen, but the fog may yet clear and the Irish may awake once more. Every generation of Irishmen and women have rebelled, in part at least, at their intolerable situation. The pike may come out of the thatch once more.

But let’s face it, we might have had nice things, but many did not. Those who did were only loaned them for a short time and it looks like they will pay for it until they die. There was no great shift in the balance of power and wealth. We had some crumbs from the table, things we should have as a right. The Celtic Tiger was no utopia, that set up should not be emulated. That was as good as it will get with the current system, a few years of comfort for a large segment of society, followed by devastation. We mustn’t set ourselves up for a fall again.

My generation might never have the future promised us, but by god we can and must have our pound of flesh! We must lay firm, solid foundations for the future of those yet to come. We can either be a lost generation, or the builders of a better tomorrow. I’ll strive for the latter.

Saoirse go Deo    23 April 2013

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Boston: A Report from the Front – Guest Post by Youngdan
April 22, 2013

It has been an unprecedented 5 days in Boston and I would like to fill in a few details.
On Monday I was in town myself but not particularly close to Copley Square and was just home when the news hit the airwaves. At first the talking heads were saying it was a gas pipe leak. Two things lead to this belief. That area is known as The Back Bay. It is an area that in Colonial times was ocean to the rear or back of Boston and was filled in from the 1820s to the 1870s. Loose soil and decaying infrastructure could cause leaks and does frequently with water. The other reason was a reluctance to believe the obvious. It was clearly not a gas leak explosion though as they are usually large and would cause huge deaths. The injuries would have been worse than the amputations as they would be burns and it would have been a complete disaster.  
The first thing that stood out was the fact that the blasts were very small. With the crowd density, a bomb could have killed hundreds. The culprits were either amateurs or extremely skilled.
My 16 year old nephew and a girl were in The Prudential Center just yards up the way. He describes what happened on his facebook. They first believed it were a gunman/men firing when the crowds started running. They ran for an exit and luckily the exit they picked brought them away from the carnage. He was not scared, he was terrorized. They both burst into tears and were trying to call home. Terror spreads then. His father would be a man that would fear very little if anything, but one thing scares all men, and that is knowing that your child needs you and you are unable to help. They were too afraid to take the subway home so they walked the 2.5 miles to Dorchester. They live near where the 8 year old lived.
Tuesday there were reports that a man was in custody. He was either in hospital recovering from burns or elsewhere, nobody was sure but we had him. He was a Saudi. Police raided his apartment in Revere and took materials etc. Then we had reports that Obama met with the Saudi minister and all of a sudden there was nobody in custody. The latest on this Saudi is that he was already flagged to be deported next Tuesday and he had nothing to do with anything. This set the internet afire as it is unbelieveable. There is nobody getting deported these days as they are being released due to cutbacks(unless you are from Clare like Declan Hawes and Sean Hamill but thats another story).
Next we must deal with the poor lad that lost his legs that someone posted  was raising money. He is the man who is credited with giving the fbi vital info on the bombers. He looked right at his face and remembered him. He is a typical American these days. He works a deli counter and thanks to Obamacare these companies are cutting back hours to make them parttime as the costs of providing health coverage to employees has skyrocketed. Not sure if he lives at home but his 24 year old brother does and works at mcdonalds. The parents live in Concord New Hampshire and look middle class. The point is the young generation are in the lower class. He is pictured being rushed out in a wheelchair by a cop, an emt and an odd fellow in a cowboy hat. Cowboys are rare in Boston, but this man saved his life by tying the tourniquet. 
This cowboy happens to be a very famous man himself. His name is Carlos Arredondo from Costa Rica
 His son was killed in Iraq in 2004 and when the 3 officers came to his door in dress uniform, it was his 44th birthday and he thought that his son was home to surprise him. He went berserk and grabbed an ax. The officers had to run for their lives while he wrecked their vehicle, doused it with gas, jumped inside and set it on fire. They dragged him out and he survived. He now travels with a coffin and a display of his kids belongings. He gives out flags. His other son suicided himself. The cops viewed him as a suspect and took all his clothes for testing.
Meanwhile the internet sleuths had 3 suspects picked out. It turned out that one was a 17 year old Moroccan and his friend. They turned themselves in and they were cleared. However, their story has got to be the most unbelieveable story every. They said they had come into town to run the marathon. I would point out that you have to qualify for the Boston Marathon. You cant just wander in, tog out and off ya go. The real kicker is, why were they at the finish. No matter how stupid they are, they would know that the start is 26 miles away. IMO, these lads are up to no good.
Then you have the pudgy guy. I have not heard any update on him.
There are also the 2 “seals”. It looks as if they are employees of a private army similiar to Blackwater called Craft International. The man that started Craft International was the famous seal sniper called Chris Kyle that got shot by a nutcase veteran at a gun range a few months back. This guy was lethal and it is said that his drivers licence had nothing on it except a phone number that the cop should call if he was ever pulled over. Once 2 gunmen were about to steal his truck in Texas and he said take it and started to walk away. He pulled his own gun and shooting under his left armpit put 2 rounds in each chest before they could figure out where the gun was. He uses a similiar logo to the navy seals skull logo and that is why some people thought them seals. They were obviousely on duty and radioed in so the question is were they hired and by whom. Then the next question is why is a private military operating in a civilian environment. This is a vital question.
On Thursday I came into town to bring my girls to the circus. The scenes were like nothing I had even seen before. I saw cop cars from everyplace. One cruiser was from Rehobeth, that’s not even in Massachusetts, it is in Rhode Island. Later I heard cops were from New York. Some were regular uniform, some were military style and some were ninja. Even recruits were there. I looped back Newbury street where the barricades were and I  could see Boylston was in disarray. Military armored cars blocked each street perpendicular at Newbury. It seems that people just dropped everything and ran in all directions.
This morning I had to go into town but awoke to the news that the city and a few more towns were in complete lockdown. That did not bother me in the least and I went about my business.
 
Today, Friday 19th. Patriots Day when the Revolution began in Lexington and Concord can only be descibed as a complete disgrace. To think that on this day 238 years ago that men like me stood against the might of The Redcoats and died, that there were about 1.5 million plonkers hiding in their houses is beyond belief. This is supposed to be the land of the brave. Bear in mind that we were not invaded by 100 million Chinese. Everyone was terrified of one single 19 year old teenager. I kid you not. Someone claimed on the radio that 94 square miles of an economy larger than Ireland was in total lockdown. No public transport, people stranded on Amtrak. A billion dollar a day economy just shut down due to one kid with a gun and who knows how many thousand cops on the streets. Not to talk of the national guard troops on The Common. After all this 6pm came and the suspect had eluded them all. A news conference was held. Defeat was admitted and the lockdown was lifted.
 
Fifteen minutes later, a private individual had discovered the suspect and shortly thereafter it was all over. It turned out that the suspect was just 1 block outside the huge dragnet they flung over Watertown. It was a total fiasco. Obama came out and told us how brave we were but everyone knows that one man shut half a state down is disgraceful fear.
 
Aftermath.
 
There will be ramifications.
1. The gun bill was utterly defeated in the Senate this week. I bet those liberals quivering in Watertown wished they had a gun when they realised the killer was not in Roxbury but outside their own fancy window
2. The immigration bill will have taken a near fatal blow. Marco Rubio will not be President. He will likely lose his Senate seat in Florida instead.
3. There will be cameras everyplace now with no real opposition. More will be private anyway as the cost comes down. No place of business should not have their area recorded now. HD as well.
4. The question of the private military is likely the most important.
5. The police really failed here. How was it possible for the suspect to escape the shootout. Hindsight is 20/20 but the question must be asked how the MIT cop allowed himself to be ambushed.
6. This lockdown of course is unprecedented in living memory. This is not a natural disaster. It is one man. A great many people who laugh at the black helecoptor people were not laughing when the 2 blackhawks were fluttering about.
 
Lastly, my wife works at The Beth Israel in the operating rooms. She was not there when either brother was brought in and would not be able to speak of anything she saw anyway. However, someone there has leaked the very graphic photo of the dead brother and this is a major breach of ethics at least and maybe law as well.

 Youngdan   22 April 2013

Talking Down Olli’s Multipliers… ?
April 16, 2013

You remember Olli’s chastising for talking down the multipliers?

well..

holy coding error batman

The intellectual edifice of austerity economics rests largely on two academic papers that were seized on by policy makers, without ever having been properly vetted, because they said what the Very Serious People wanted to hear. One was Alesina/Ardagna on the macroeconomic effects of austerity, which immediately became exhibit A for those who wanted to believe in expansionary austerity. Unfortunately, even aside from the paper’s failure to distinguish between episodes in which monetary policy was available and those in which it wasn’t, it turned out that their approach to measuring austerity was all wrong; when the IMF used a measure that tracked actual policy, it turned out that contractionary policy was contractionary.The other paper, which has had immense influence — largely because in the VSP world it is taken to have established a definitive result — was Reinhart/Rogoff on the negative effects of debt on growth. Very quickly, everyone “knew” that terrible things happen when debt passes 90 percent of GDP.

ok

raining on Reinhoff and Rogoff 

First, Reinhart and Rogoff selectively exclude years of high debt and average growth. Second, they use a debatable method to weight the countries. Third, there also appears to be a coding error that excludes high-debt and average-growth countries. All three bias in favor of their result, and without them you don’t get their controversial result.

So what do Herndon-Ash-Pollin conclude? They find “the average real GDP growth rate for countries carrying a public debt-to-GDP ratio of over 90 percent is actually 2.2 percent, not -0.1 percent as [Reinhart-Rogoff claim].” Going further into the data, they are unable to find a breakpoint where growth falls quickly and significantly.

so

..and Krugman again

But it seems that this is just what happened. According to the review paper, R-R mysteriously excluded data on some high-debt countries with decent growth immediately after World War II, which would have greatly weakened their result; they used an eccentric weighting scheme in which a single year of bad growth in one high-debt country counts as much as multiple years of good growth in another high-debt country; and they dropped a whole bunch of additional data through a simple coding error.

Fix all that, say Herndon et al., and the result apparently melts away.

If true, this is embarrassing and worse for R-R. But the really guilty parties here are all the people who seized on a disputed research result, knowing nothing about the research, because it said what they wanted to hear.

There is no alternative folks. Taking bets now on Irish coverage

 

Dr. FIVE   16 April 2013

Maduro Presidente – a Result for Venezuela
April 15, 2013

Surprising result, but a good one. Huge cyber attacks on the officialist campaign during election day, hacking accounts and websites.

I think the chavistas rested on their laurels and thought they had it won, whereas the opposition got their biggest vote ever. Even so, there’s no chance of overturning a 240,000 vote majority, cry as they may.   Maduro Presidente.

Ogiol    15th April 2013

My First Green Party Convention – “Energising Communities”
April 11, 2013

Over the years I have become ever more aware of our convergence of crises; resource depletion, population growth, species extinction, food security, climate change, waste and water management etc. All concerns for every day living, all contributing to our economic state, all relevant to our existence.

The more I learned, the more I realised I should do something. The more I acted the more I noted the obstacles placed before me. The more obstacles I faced the more I pushed. The more I pushed the more I discovered the existence of apathy and lack of democracy. Effectively, the more I ventured down this road of considering the world about me the more politicised I became questioning the governance of our country, Europe and the planet.

I am one of the people who will engage election candidates in “bigger issue” discussions at my doorstep or, if they’re really unlucky, at the kitchen table over tea. I will assess what they know about the relationship between the environment, economy and society, how to achieve social justice, whether they understand the word “sustainable” and what plans they have to build resilience to the crises we face.

As time has passed I have become labelled an environmentalist. I am actually a systems analyst and where I once assessed the software needs for a company, designed and wrote it, trained up users and wrote manuals, I now observe the world around me. It is an amazing system to analyse.

Long story short, having evaluated other parties over the past few years, an unexpected gathering with the families of Green Party members in August 2012, accepting my new label, realising I need support in what I am doing and being invited to, I decided to join the Green Party. Given that Laois/Offaly don’t even have a constituency group I’m not exactly feeling like a member of any party but I hope that will change.

I decided that no other party, that could survive outside Dublin or Cork, truly understands sustainable development and social justice like the greens. I feel people are ready to stand behind being green but whether they are willing to stand behind the Irish Green Party is yet to be shown. My personal opinion is I reckon they may need an “under new management” sign up in order to recall past supporters and attract new interest. I also think it’s time for a woman to lead. These would be my tactical moves not reflective of individual performance.

As part of convention there is an open debate on wind energy this Friday night at 8.30pm in the Salthill Hotel chaired by Duncan Stewart. Wind energy is a big issue in the midlands now and I will be attending that. I hope that all members in the midlands counties make contact with a view to further discussions about these proposals. The lack of democracy in the plan is astounding. Disregard for community consultation is as nonexistent as ever. I am eager to hear the feedback at that meeting and what the views of the party members and the public are.

The weekend is themed “Energising Communities”.  It appears more lecture driven than I like but still looks interesting. There are motions and reports, addresses and speeches not all of which do appeal to me as a newbie so I will offer child minding for those times!

Tickets to the convention are available here http://gpconvention2013.eventbrite.ie/

Theresa Carter  11 April 2013

The Lady’s Not for Returning…. Margaret Thatcher Dead at Last
April 8, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    Total Mayhem   8 April 2013

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